Bristol Myers Kidney Cancer Drug Fails Late Stage Trial

Hammers said most of his patients are like me: '"shell-shocked and struggling to decide which way to go." We do what we're told, because we do not want to die.

I was No. 10 in Hammers' trial out of the 25 patients he is seeking. I signed the consent papers around this time last August. I don't think I read them except for the part about how I might get diabetes or Crohn's or just die as a side effect of the trial, and I was OK with that. There are now 19 in Hammers' RADVAX trial, with two more about to sign up.

The trial is being funded by the Kidney Cancer Coalition out of Virginia Beach, VA, founded by Ralph and Brenda Knapp. Ralph was a patient of Hammers' just as he was trying to launch the RADVAX study. The doc had the drugs, provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb, just not the funding — the feds and the pharmaceutical company wouldn't cough up a cent. So the Knapps raised the money themselves — $300,000.

Hammers, who speaks with a lilting German accent, started out researching blood vessels and cancer after he read a 1998 >New York Times article about a revolutionary treatment that might "eradicate any type of cancer" by cutting off the blood flow to tumors. But, eventually, he switched to kidney cancer. And it was hard, he told me.

Bad luck, good timing

Before 2006, most far-along kidney cancer patients lived maybe a year after diagnosis, which meant most of his patients died. Then came Sutent, the pill that extended some lives, and "there was a glimpse of something people could work with," he said.

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